Bo Butner might be a used-car salesman from Floyds Knobs, Ind., but he’s as sharp as any Wall Street lawyer. Take, for instance, his recent . . . ahem . . . business acquisition.
After partnering with Kenny Koretsky and his Nitro Fish line of T-shirts, Butner had a lovely idea that seemed to backfire on him . . . and ended up backfiring more on the NHRA.
“I’m new to this. And believe me, I get along with everybody in the world. And there’s enough business out here for everybody involved. We should all work together,” Butner said, prefacing his story during Friday’s qualifying action at the Toyota NHRA Nationals.
“But I kind of got in trouble,” he said.
Fiancée Randy Lyn Shipp designs most of Butner’s T-shirts. And she came up with one that included the wording “The Big Go 2017.” Butner said he had 144 shirts made and planned to hand them out to sportsman racers.
“Evidently Main Gate or somebody owns the rights to the U.S. Nationals, which they call ‘The Big Go,’” he said. “I’m not a hothead, and I said, ‘No problem.’”
Maybe Butner would have been an excellent reporter, for it then occurred to him that he ought to check out just who owns the trademark to the phrase “The Big Go.” Shipp did the legwork and discovered no one owned the trademark.
So Butner applied for it.
In the interest of keeping the peace, he asked for another meeting with the NHRA officials. He told them, “Listen, again, I get along with everybody. There’s no trademark to it. I am in line to have it. Let’s all get along or I’ll have to have  a problem with people using ‘The Big Go’ if I have the trademark.”
He said, “It all went good. They just asked me, ‘Please don’t stick it out in front of people’s faces. But this was the second day in, and at that time I was buying them to give to the stocker racers, mainly. I didn’t want to make money off of it. Ever since then, I’ve had a couple of spats where I’ve gotten in trouble. But now we all get along pretty good.”
So does the NHRA have to pay Butner anytime it chooses to advertise or market or promote “The Big Go”?
“No, no, no, no. no - I would never enforce that – no, no, no,” Butner said. “I didn’t even want to bring that up. If they want it that bad, they can have it. I promise you, you do not get that rich on T-shirts. The guy I buy them from does.”
Butner uses the catchphrase “Bo Knows” for his Jim Butner Auto Sales business at Clarksville, Ind. He got some push-back for that, but he said Nike (which ran a “Bo Knows” advertising campaign for cross-training shoes in 1989-90 that featured NFL and Major League Baseball star Bo Jackson) dropped the trademark or allowed it to expire.
“I’ve applied for it,” Butner said. “It’s kind of senseless and crazy, but oh well.”
Oh well . . . c’est la vie . . . Wait– Does anyone have trademarks on those phrases?